When we first launched the Warm Hearts Winter drive in 2015, our goal was simple – we wanted to raise much needed funds and support for the aid organizations around the Northwest who provide food and shelter to those in need. What started as a conversation among Columbia Bank employees regarding the growing problem of homelessness throughout the Northwest has now become a multi-state movement toward providing support and warmth during the cold winter months. As we head into our fifth anniversary of the Warm Hearts Winter Drive, we wanted to take a few moments to celebrate the journey and some of our favorite heartwarming memories from the last four years of the drive.
2015: A State of Emergency
In 2015, major cities in both Washington and Oregon declared states of emergency related to the growing homeless population. We wanted to do whatever we could to support our communities in this crisis. Knowing that the winter months can be some of the most challenging for individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness, we landed on the idea of a bank-wide drive during the holiday season. With the support of our wonderful communities, we were able to raise $157,527 and over 10,000 winter items in just a few short weeks. We kept the funds local, and allotted the items and the funds raised to the corresponding local shelters who were hard at work providing food and shelter to those in need.
2016: Just Warming Up
By the winter of 2016, it became apparent that there was still a great need for support in the Northwest. The Warm Hearts Winter Drive launched its second annual campaign, where we could come together in support of our shelter partners during some of the coldest months of the year. In 2016, we raised $209,335 in funds and received over 8,100 warm winter items from generous community members, employees, customers and partners. These funds and items were distributed to 54 aid organizations across the Northwest and were kept local according to where the donation was made.
2017: Raising the Bar
During our third annual Warm Hearts Winter Drive, we set a lofty fundraising goal and raised $220,356.24 and 6,542 winter items that were distributed to the corresponding local shelters! Throughout the campaign we were blown away by the generosity of our community and the passion of our bankers who brought their A game when it came to creative fundraisers and ways to get involved. This year's fundraising set the bar high for years to come!
2018: Working to Find Solutions
As momentum grew, we wanted to continue in the tradition of raising much-needed funds for our shelter partners and set an ambitious goal of raising $250,000. In total, we set a new fundraising record of $254,034 and over 6,000 warm winter wear items to support local shelters during our fourth year of Warm Hearts. In 2018, we also wanted to focus on helping support innovative non-profits who were leading the way on finding sustainable solutions for affordable housing. Columbia donated four $25,000 one-time grants to selected organizations: Mary's Place in Seattle, SHARE House in Vancouver, Helping Hands Re-Entry Outreach in Clatsop, Tillamook, Yamhill, and Lincoln Counties and to Shared Housing Services in Tacoma.
2019: Sustaining a Movement
As we head into our fifth anniversary of the Warm Hearts Winter Drive we're looking forward to creating a sustainable movement toward reducing homelessness in the Northwest. We've set our annual fundraising goal at $250,000 and expect to surpass raising over 1 million dollars in the five years of Warm Hearts. With this kind of commitment, we believe Columbia employees and partners are becoming part of the long-term solution. This year we are also continuing the Warm Homes affordable housing initiative, which will donate two $25,000 one-time grants to selected partner organizations who are working on sustainable solutions for affordable housing in the Northwest.
We look forward to uniting with our communities for the common goal of raising funds and awareness for those living on the streets during this cold winter seasons and beyond. Further, we are excited to become a permanent partner toward the goal of significantly reducing homelessness. To get involved you can make a donation online or at any Columbia Bank branch location.
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